Freedom is only valuable when it is exercised by those who consider themselves free. As an educator I am free for three months every year, but that freedom comes with the price of being unable to do even the most simple daily tasks during the average day. The summer has always been the time of year when I can pursue whatever my heart desires wherever the wind takes me. The challenge as I grow older is to ensure that I take advantage of the time I earn; it is all too easy to sleep past noon and watch bad movies.
The summer began with a vacation in Hawaii. The Hawaiian islands are undoubtedly my favourite place in the world. If there is an early paradise, then it is somewhere between Maui and Kauai. Our first week was spent at the beautiful Maui Eco-Retreat on the edge of the ocean. Waking up to soft breezes in a Buddhist-style space to eat fresh papaya and bananas was bliss; hiking across to a secluded waterfall pool or down to a wild tidal beach was an experience that we looked forward to each morning. After a long, stressful year, I simply cannot imagine a better place to commit to my yoga practice in the ocean view temple. While both of the owners were traveling in Europe during our stay, their caretaker, William, was truly exceptional in his manner and the care he showed toward us during our weeklong stay. I even took advantage of having William provide an hour long therapeutic massage for a reasonable fee. I am not sure how our stay would be affected if other guests were there to practice yoga with Kutira and Rafael, but I feel that the stay would have been equally calm and reflective.
Our days were filled with hikes along in the Haleakala National Park, swims in the ocean surrounded by sea turtles, and fresh fish sandwiches at Pa’ia Fish Market or Rock and Brews. From the barbecued brisket at Whole Foods Market to the fish tacos all along the roads and in the little towns, Maui offers exceptional food if one knows what to order. One other opportunity not to miss would be a farm tour visit at O’o Farms, which takes you through their gorgeous farm area and ends with a superb lunch cooked in an open air kitchen. The guilty pleasure of the vacation was our final night which was spent at the Fairmont Maui resort. I was able to use a free Platinum Member night at the the Kea Leani property, and we ended up in the nicest room I have ever had the pleasure to stay in. The staff at the Fairmont were truly exceptional, especially the manager at Ko Restaurant, and we felt like we were treated like valued customers. I do love the Fairmont hotel properties, and cannot say enough about the way they have treated me on my travels.
The second part of the summer took me to the highways and interstates along the Ohio River. Over 2,000 miles were logged in from Toronto to Pittsburgh to Louisville to Nashville, Columbus and Cleveland. I do love the people of the U.S.A., especially when they have an opportunity to share their personal knowledge of their hometown. I spent a lot of time asking questions and hearing stories from the bikers, bartenders and shop clerks who we met along our motorcycle ride. What I learned is that every single person deserves to have their story heard, and that what one gets back are the little pieces of information that make passing through a town like Rabbit Hash memorable.
Summer is over, and now I need to return to the education of young minds. I have been placing a lot of my efforts into the novel that I rebooted work on this summer, so my blog entries are more intermittent than usual. As the year chugs onward though, I expect that to change, as all things do. I am also looking into a new motorcycle to replace my Ducati Monster 696. I am not sure I will actually move up to a bigger engine in either a Ducati Diavel or a Harley Fat Boy, but I do know that if I intend on riding more through the United States of America, then I will need a more stable, comfortable ride before too long. The body betrays us and we simply have to go on with the remains of what once was.